Yatani gives Sh61b to fire up struggling agriculture sector

Friday, June 12th, 2020 00:00 |
Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security. Photo/PD/file

The government has announced new measures targeted at stimulating high growth in the struggling agriculture sector.

National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announced Sh60.7 billion to support the sector when he presented the 2020/21 national budget in Parliament yesterday.

Yatani acknowledged that the sector is one of the areas most affected by Covid-19 pandemic over and above the impact of the recent locust invasion, thus emphasising the need for recovery strategy.   

The announced agriculture budget is an increase of 21 per cent from Sh50.1 billion allocated in 2019/2020 financial year.

Yatani said he had set aside Sh3 billion to subsidise the supply of farm inputs through the e-voucher system to reach 200,000 small-scale farmers. 

“I have also allocated Sh3.4 billion for expanded community household irrigation to cushion farmers from the adverse effects of weather and further secure food supply chains,” the CS added. 

Further, flower and horticultural farmers have been allocated Sh1.5 billion to enable them to access international markets during this period when there is low cargo traffic in and out of the country.

A substantial percentage of the resources will be expended under the Sh56.6 billion Economic Stimulus Programme announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month. The growth of the sector pundits say it might decelerate further compared to 3.6 per cent recorded in 2019 after dropping from 6.1 per cent in 2018.  

Yatani said the measures will support and sustain the farming communities as they provide employment to thousands of workers. He reiterated the government’s commitment to improve food and nutrition security in order to reduce the number of food insecure Kenyans.

“Towards this end, the government will continue to expand irrigation schemes, support large-scale production of staples, increase access to agricultural inputs, implement programmes to support smallholder farmers and promote the use of appropriate farming techniques,” Yatani added.

Nutrition security

To enhance food and nutrition security, the government has factored in the budget Sh52.8 billion much of which is provided by the donors.

Kenya Climate Smart Agricultural Project has been financed to the tune of Sh10.6 billion, Sh5.5 billion for the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusivity Project (NARIP),  and Sh4.1 billion for Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme.

Yatani said Sh730 million will be expended in the 2020/2021 fiscal year to finance Food Security and Crop Diversification Project and Sh10 billion for irrigation land reclamation. 

Other proposed allocations include Sh1.8 billion to enhance aquaculture business development project, Sh1.4 billion to support small-scale irrigation and value addition Sh1.3 billion to enhance resilience of pastoral communities, Sh1.1 billion to enhance drought resilience and sustainable livelihood.  

Agriculture stakeholders expressed mixed reactions to the measures with some claiming the government is shortchanging the sector and ignoring its huge contribution the economy.

Even though there is slight increase in the budgetary allocations, the players unanimously agreed that the sector despite its enormous contribution to the economy has been shortchanged.

Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher with Tegemeo Research Institute said the government increased budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector to slightly above 3 per cent compared to 1.8 per cent in 2019/2020 fiscal year.

“We welcome the increase of the agriculture budget in the coming financial year, though it is far below to the target advocated under various international protocols,” he said.

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